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Songs We Love: The Stevens, 'Chancer'

The Stevens' <em>Good</em> comes out July 14.
Courtesy of the artist
The Stevens' Good comes out July 14.

From the first second, The Stevens sets us up for a letdown. In "Chancer," the Melbourne band assures us it's going to be a joyous and heartbreaking ride, a haze of indie-pop bliss defined by its sloping guitars. The song flirts with optimism as it moves upward without ever reaching a landing, creating a tension that power-pop has always known to be true: Darkness is best served deceptively, through happy sounds and complicated sentiment.

"Chancer" is the first single from The Stevens' sophomore LP, Good, a song by musicians who know how to write humor into heavy hearts. When the vocals kick in, the band harmonizes over the repetitive phrase "Give me a chance to be a stranger" and, later, "I don't know if you'll be pleased to meet me / I want to know if you'll see me again." It's simple enough phrasing that recognizes the romance (or lack thereof) in anonymity — the space after a relationship goes so completely awry that you hope to one day become a blip on your former partner's radar again, even as a stranger, to begin anew.

Guitarist Travis MacDonald tells NPR, "I thought it'd be funny to write an anthemic-sounding rock song about wanting to be unknown. I wrote it a few years ago — it was going to be on the last record, but it didn't sound right. There weren't enough guitars or crash cymbals. If you wanna be forgotten, a lot of guitars and crash cymbals are a great way to communicate this. It's also about heartache." That it is.

Good comes out July 14 on Chapter Music (Bandcamp, digital).

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